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ST. STEPHEN'S ASSOCIATION and ST. STEPHEN'S CHINESE GIRLS SCHOOL vs.

THE COLLECTOR OF INTERNAL REVENUE


G.R. No. L-11238 August 21, 1958
REYES, J. B. L., J.:


DOCTRINE:
Where a taxpayer questions an assessment and asks the Collector to reconsider or
cancel the same because he (the taxpayer) believes he is not liable therefor, the
assessment becomes a "disputed assessment" that the Collector must decide, and the
taxpayer can appeal to the Court of Tax Appeals only upon receipt of the decision of the
Collector on the disputed assessment, in accordance with paragraph (1) of section 7,
Republic Act No. 1125, conferring appellate jurisdiction upon the Court of Tax Appeals
to review "decisions of the Collector of Internal Revenue in cases involving disputed
assessment . . ."

KEYWORD(S):
Appeal, Tax Remedies

FACTS:
Petitioners wrote the Collector a letter requesting the cancellation and withdrawal of the
assessment notice in question on the ground that the amount of P9,252.48 was
erroneously entered by the bookkeeper as a donation from the Association to the
School, when the truth was that said amount was obtained by the former by means of
small contributions from the public and allocated to the School for its maintenance.
Then, in a letter dated April 6 1955, the Collector denied the request and insisted that
the assessment in question be paid. Consequently, petitioners replied and asked for
reconsideration. On July 25, 1955, petitioners received the letter of the Collector dated
July 11, 1955, again denying their request that the assessment in question be cancelled
and withdrawn, and stating in its last paragraph that:

This decision becomes final thirty days after your receipt hereof unless an appeal
is taken to the Court of Tax Appeals within the same period, in accordance with
the provisions of Republic Act No. 1125.

Within thirty days from the receipt of the above letter, or on August 13, 1955, petitioners
filed a petition for review with the respondent Court of Tax Appeals.

The respondent court promulgated a resolution dismissing the petition for lack of
jurisdiction. The resolution was premised on the court's findings that the period for
petitioners' appeal started to run from their receipt of the assessment notice in question;
that said period was interrupted by the filing of petitioners' two requests for the
cancellation of the assessment, but started to run again when said requests were
denied; and that from November 12, 1954, when petitioners received the assessment
notice, to August 13, 1955, when they filed their petition for review, deducting the time
when their two requests for cancellation were pending with the respondent Collector, 37
days had elapsed and therefore, their petition was filed out of time and did not confer
jurisdiction upon the respondent court. From this resolution of dismissal, petitioners
appealed to this Court.

ISSUE:
Did the CTA ruled correctly?

RULING:
No. Where a taxpayer questions an assessment and asks the Collector to reconsider or
cancel the same because he (the taxpayer) believes he is not liable therefor, the
assessment becomes a "disputed assessment" that the Collector must decide, and the
taxpayer can appeal to the Court of Tax Appeals only upon receipt of the decision of the
Collector on the disputed assessment, in accordance with paragraph (1) of section 7,
Republic Act No. 1125, conferring appellate jurisdiction upon the Court of Tax Appeals
to review "decisions of the Collector of Internal Revenue in cases involving disputed
assessment . . ."

The period for appeal to the respondent court in this case must, therefore, be computed
from the time petitioners received the decision of the respondent Collector of Internal
Revenue on the disputed assessment, and not from the time they received said
assessment. The next question now is: which is the decision of the Collector on the
disputed assessment his letter of April 6, 1955, received by petitioners on April 21,
1955, denying their first request for the withdrawal and cancellation of the assessment;
or his letter of July 11, 1955, received by petitioners on July 25, 1955, denying their
second request that the assessment be cancelled and withdrawn, and stating that:

This decision becomes final thirty days after your receipt hereof unless an appeal is
taken to the Court of Tax Appeals within the same period, in accordance with the
provision of Republic Act No. 1125.

From the above-quoted statement appearing in his letter of July 11, 1955, it is evident
that the respondent Collector himself considered said letter as his final decision in the
case, hence his warning that the same would become final in thirty days unless
petitioners appealed to the Court of Tax Appeals within the same period. Prior to his
letter-decision of July 11, 1955, then, the Collector must have held the matter under
advisement and considered his preceding rulings as merely tentative in character,
pending his final determination and resolution of the merits of the arguments of fact and
law submitted by petitioners in support of their requests for the cancellation and
withdrawal of the assessment. This must have been the reason why, in said letter-
decision of July 11, 1955, the Collector included an express statement that said
decision was to become final in thirty days unless appealed from within the same
period; and it must also have been for this reason that, throughout the proceedings in
the respondent Collector never claimed that petitioners' appeal was filed out of time,
and it was the Tax Court that motu proprio dismissed the petition because it believed it
was not filed within the period provided by Republic Act No. 1125.

Petitioners having filed their appeal on the 19th day from the receipt of this decision,
their appeal was filed on time and the respondent Court erred in dismissing the same
for lack of jurisdiction.